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Parents Still Outraged Over Plan To Shut Down 18 NYC Schools

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Roberto Clemente Magnet School (credit: CBS 2)

Roberto Clemente Magnet School (credit: CBS 2)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Angry parents and teachers are vowing to keep fighting to save 18 schools that are slated to be phased out.

Efraim Vazquez attended Roberto Clemente Magnet School as a child and now his kids do, too.

But not for long.

The school is one of more than a dozen now on the chopping block as part of a plan to shut down 18 schools and cut out middle school grades in five others.

“All the parents are trying to protest but they’re not paying attention. The parents’ words mean nothing,” Vazquez told CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown.

The City’s Panel for Educational Policy cast the final vote Thursday night in a fiery public meeting filled with thousands of parents and educators, all protesting the decision.

“I’m angry and I’m frustrated! I am afraid for the future of my child’s life!” one mother said at the hearing.

Board members blame perennial poor performance but, they said, by redirecting the resources they can improve education across the city.

Chancellor Dennis Walcott defended the decision Friday.

“We’ll be providing the appropriate support to those schools to begin the process of phasing out, but also the vote last night included the development of new schools that will be going in most of the buildings,” Walcott said.

Some of the schools set to shut down are only a few years old. Others, like Roberto Clemente Magnet Schoo,l have been here for more than a century.

Like most of the schools affected, Roberto Clemente has a high population of special needs children and longtime teacher and UFT chapter leader Pat Tambakis said she feels targeted.

“I’m 27 years here. I’ve never seen this happen,” said Tambakis. “How are we supposed to succeed? They’re setting us up for failure.”

While most parents CBS 2 spoke with aren’t in favor of closing the schools, many agree the system needs an overhaul.

“They should have made the effort to put different teachers and different techniques in order to make it succeed,” said parent Jacqueline Lopez.

The schools will phase students out over the next several years. In addition to the 16 new schools, the panel also voted to expand four others.

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